What Is The Tower?

This past weekend, we launched a new Kickstarter. Quietly and with very little fuss. Why? Well… this one’s a little different. It’s not a game you’ll be able to buy online or find in any stores and it will only be available through the 21-day window of this campaign. Oh, and you won’t be able to play it until I’m dead.

The Kickstarter campaign for The Tower, an unfortunate game that you can’t play until I’m dead.

While most of the posts made on this website represent our various product lines and more publicly consumable games, this one’s far too personal. And it’s difficult to explain so perhaps let’s cut straight to a passage from the Kickstarter itself.

Some ideas are a hard sell. They may have an important message you want to share with the world but there’s something about the idea that’s controversial or risky. Particularly when it comes to making a game about a terrible event that will spiral out of control in ways we never imagined until it becomes a part of modern life. You know you may never be able to share it but it never truly goes away. Until you see a sign and the opportunity suddenly presents itself. 

The Tower is a mature tabletop roleplaying game about a terrifying moment that changes the lives of the people involved. And you won’t be able to play it until I’m dead. In the spirit of Break Kickstarter, this campaign will provide you with a password-protected PDF of the finished game by the promised delivery date. The password will only be provided by me in the event of my death by natural or accidental causes. 

From The Tower’s Kickstarter page

In the first 48 hours of this campaign, we’re already approaching 300% funding. Due to the nature of this unique publication (it will technically be available through BRG but not outside of this Kickstarter), there were no plans to even include any mention of it on this website. Yet as this thing starts to catch on with a few curious backers so early into the campaign, that may change. For now, if you’ve ever been interested in any of my work as a tabletop game design and can appreciate what one backer generously referred to as “performance art,” everything you can know can be found on The Tower’s Kickstarter page.

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It’s Time To Make A Deal

Who says poker and LARPs don’t go together?

Today’s the day! Our 4th Kickstarter campaign went live early this morning and The Deal is ready to place your bets. As our very first live-action roleplaying game, this game quickly proved to be more than a simple idea that deserved a little extra attention that only Kickstarter can provide.

If you haven’t heard of the premise yet, think of a stage production if written by Quentin Tarantino. The Deal is about four strangers at a high-stakes poker game as they discover one of them is blackmailing the others. By combining the game with regular poker cards, this game can be played seamlessly at a table for larp-ers both new and familiar. We’re really excited about this game and hope you’ll take a moment to check it out. (Plus it’ll be the cheapest way to buy a copy as the price will increase between 20%-30% when the final version is released on DriveThruCards.

Check out The Deal right here on brokenrulergames.net and learn about other games in the Fragments line. And, of course, you can find The Deal on Kickstarter until June 17th.

Countdown to The Deal’s Kickstarter

The button has been clicked and The Deal‘s Kickstarter page is currently under review. It won’t be long now until our third Kickstarter campaign is under way. Oh yeah, in case we never mentioned it before… we’re doing a Kickstarter for a larp!

The Deal is a “poker larp” from Broken Ruler Games. Here, you can see a preview of the cover and some of the cards.

The Deal is a live-action roleplaying game of poker where you play one of four characters caught up in a web of blackmail, deception, and confrontation during a high-stakes game of poker. Playtested at BreakoutCon in Toronto this past year, this Kickstarter will have a small goal of $600 CDN within 21 days and you can back this game for as little as $1 with the biggest stretch goal just a mere $20 to unlock The Loaded Deck, a complete deck of standard playing cards in the same design as the game’s cards that creates a more advanced level of play. (The Loaded Deck will be exclusive to the Kickstarter, btw!) When published, it will be sold through DriveThruCards and all cards are designed to work with existing poker decks to create a seamless and immersive experience. In other words… it’s really fucking fun. (Oh yes, there’s lots of content warnings and this game is intended for mature players.)

You can check out a preview of The Deal on Kickstarter before it officially launches or learn more about the game in our Fragments line. And remember to talk about this game with #PokerLarpIsAThing

UPDATE: The date has been set! The Deal will launch on Tuesday, May 28th and run for 21 days.

A Special #DinosaurDay Announcement

Yes, Happy #DinosaurDay, everyone! As museums, libraries, and teachers who actually know their way around social media are sharing some of the exciting discoveries made in palaeontology, we wanted to take a moment to announce our next big project. It’s quite different and more ambitious than anything we’ve done before.

Cover for the Dinosaur Project: The Gobi Expedition playtest.
Cover for Dinosaur Project: The Gobi Expedition, an upcoming free playtest version of the full game.

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing a free public playtest for our upcoming family RPG, Dinosaur Project. Designed using a simplified version of the GUMSHOE system, you are a team of dinosaur scientists from a future where their prehistoric ancestors were never wiped out. Using your imaginations, features, skills, tools, and your field of study at Mesozoic University (as well as a time machine, of course), you’ll journey back to the age of the dinosaurs and report back with your findings. Along the way, your scientists will learn something about themselves and discover how they can learn from the past.

Designed by Todd Crapper and Chelsea Hamilton, Dinosaur Project: The Gobi Expedition will soon be available for everyone to playtest until September 30, 2019. By year’s end, we’re also hoping to launch a Kickstarter to fund a boxed set for the Dinosaur Project RPG, including 10 pre-written expeditions and a collection of dinosaur and scientist cards to create a variety of characters. Over the coming months leading up to our Kickstarter, we’ll be sharing some of the mechanics and cool facts we’ve discovered about these amazing creatures.

You can read more about it on our freshly excavated Dinosaur Project page.

Are You Ready To Make A Deal?

When 2019 started, The Deal‘s mechanics were under review and things were moving forward with it as our third Fragments game originally due to release around this time. Yet after a very successful game at BreakoutCon in Toronto this past March, the decision has been made to go all-in.

Today, we’re pleased to announce The Deal: A Live-Action Roleplaying Game of Poker will be going to Kickstarter this Spring. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more details on this project and everyone’s invited to check out our webpage for The Deal as well as catch a preview for the Kickstarter page.

The current cover for The Deal: A Live-Action Roleplaying Game of Poker. Coming to Kickstarter in Spring 2019.

What is The Deal? It’s a live-action roleplaying game (or a “larp,” as the cool kids call it) where four players take on the role of strangers gathered together for a high stakes game of poker. As they actually play poker, special cards known as Twists & Turns introduce plot twists as the strangers discover one of them is blackmailing the others. Nothing will remain the same when this game is done as the strangers discover some of the deepest, darkest secrets even their loved ones don’t know.

Measuring Success: The First Year In Review

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There are differences between levels of success and they’re based on the goals we lay down. Yet no matter how you look at it, we all view success as a means of moving forward and upwards. There’s a momentum behind it and when you get a lot of it behind you, even in small doses, things can really move in directions you never imagined. That’s the mantra I live by when it comes to anything I do. I start small and I let it grow and don’t look back until I can see things have really progressed in ways I had not expected and yet always hoped for.

I guess that’s a long way to say… Welcome to another edition of our Measuring Success series! Where I figuratively pull back the curtain to reveal nothing more than a lone man frantically pushing a lot of buttons in the hopes of creating something magical. And that would be me, Todd Crapper, the publisher of Broken Ruler Games and Pusher Of All Buttons. Not only is it time for an update on this bi-annual sales report for all curious onlookers and fellow independent publishers, it’s also a review of BRG’ first year as a registered business. If you’ve never read any of the previous installments in this series, you can find them all here. Basically, I open up the books and spill the beans on how well my business is doing.

Right off the bat, let’s begin with the good news. We made money! The majority of that stems from the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter, which means that profit is going to be very short lived. But still… we made money! If I take away the Kickstarter funds, we are working in the red but that is very much expected with numerous projects and partnerships in the works, memberships fees, printing costs, and more. There have also been some valuable lessons learned – some of them troubling, others eye opening. As you’ll see below, we’ve also started moving into some exiting new directions for 2018. Put on your goggles, folks, because it’s time to dive into the deep end of the pool.

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What Did We Sell?

Every one of these posts starts off with a big giant spreadsheet containing sales from multiple sources – DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, CreateSpace/Amazon, the Open Gaming Store, Epimas, and others. Below is the complete sales data from September 2016 to August 2017.

Product

OBS Sales (DriveThruRPG/ RPGNow)

Open Gaming Store Sales

Convention/ Direct Sales

Total
Sales

Total Gross

Killshot: The Director’s Cut

83

11

94

$143.90

PDF

26

26

Hardcover

2

2

Hardcover + PDF

1

1

Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal

9

9

Killshot Files #0

26

11

37

Killshot Files #1

9

9

$12.00

Killshot Files #2

10

10

$27.97

ScreenPlay

314

20

16

350

$450.45

PDF

37

2

39

Softcover

2

16

18

Softcover + PDF

4

4

Ironbound

105

18

105

$8.84

The Blessed and the Damned

150

150

Dial M For Monster

16

16

$68.50

TOTAL

397

31

16

444

$711.66

dialm_finalcoverOverall, sales were down 44% compared to the previous year (and before I registered BRG as a business). The main reason is a lack of new products during this first year. Aside from Dial M For Monster, which bombed, all of my focus this past year was spent preparing the HPS Kickstarter, engaging with distribution channels and connecting with publishing organizations. All things considered, it’s not a harsh drop and is quite acceptable when you consider this crowded RPG market (particularly on DriveThruRPG). These numbers do not include either of the free playtests for ScreenPlay and High Plains Samurai, which helped keep BRG active and increased the size of our audience. These playtests combined were downloaded 1,640 times since 2016 – an impressive amount that helped us raise $6,411 on Kickstarter this year.

What these numbers provide is a benchmark for 2017-18, one I’m quite hopeful can be jumped over and left in the dust when the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game is released in Fall 2018. If I play my cards right, there will also be some early momentum from Summer convention sales and will also be available through North American distribution with Indie Press Revolution (they’ve already requested a restock of 20 copies of ScreenPlay, in fact). While the past couple of months have been off to a slow start, my eyes are looking towards March 2018 for the numbers to make a running charge at that benchmark.

Otherwise, there hasn’t been any significant change in sales since the previous MS post. If you’re interested to read a summary on the first six months’ sales, click here.

HPS-Kickstarter_BalladPreview

What Did I Learn?

If there’s one area that has been the biggest eye-opener, it’s been bookkeeping. Detailing every single transaction, noting it across different reports, multiple currencies, transfers, and all the financial data needed to run a business has changed significantly in our second year. With new opportunities now available to BRG products, including access to distribution through IPR, there’s going to be more to track and I need to keep everything organized in a way that will make sense 365 days of the year.

Balancing the demands of running your own business with the need to create new material has also been challenging with a few adjustments made along the way. This has also lead to a better approach on dedicating time for project management, scheduling and budgeting to get ahead of the train rather than racing after it. There has been more time placed on setting up new opportunities for BRG to pave the way for a larger release with High Plains Samurai than anything else I’ve ever done. While not a conscious goal, there is a chance HPS‘ core rulebook could premiere at Gen Con 2018! An opportunity too good to miss. With these matters handled during the first year of operation, I can now get back to the creative side of the business before stepping back into the marketing and publishing sides. Different hats, as they say.

I’ve also discovered that it is possible to go with only 5 hours sleep for two weeks straight but it’s not going to feel good by the end.

One of those nice and unexpected (yet secretly hoped for) benefits of this past year has been the contacts and support from other indie RPG publishers, particularly with the members of the IGDN. They were incredibly helpful filling in the gaps and tightening up the presentation for the Kickstarter and I’ve been able to work with industry figureheads such as Mark Diaz Truman, Sarah Richardson, Emily Care Boss, and others on the Metatopia Scholarship program. It’s given me a couple of geek-out moments, for sure, but the most important benefit has been that sense of inclusion. Of community and knowing there are others who are just as mad dog crazy as I am about doing this. It’s also offered up a lot to think about when it comes to marketing and communicating with my customers, from setting up a subscription newsletter, to Patreon, and other things that would need a post unto themselves. All told, being part of the IGDN started to teach me how I can responsibly grow BRG.

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I also had a blast going on some of my favourite podcasts, including Misdirected Mark and The Gauntlet. Plus there were the personal connections made by attending Breakout in March and shaking hands with fantastic publishers and game designers like Fraser Simons, and Hamish Cameron. Knowing there are people out there you could be trapped on a deserted island with and talk about game design uninterrupted…? Priceless.

Going back to the benchmark mentioned above, this year’s sales were more than enough to handle expenses, printing and shipping costs, convention attendance, travel, and others. One of the advantages of working almost completely online is the savings; it’s quite possible to make a lot of business arrangements without leaving your chair. This means as long as I can at least pull in these kinds of numbers year-to-year, the business can continue to stay afloat. And that requires a continuous release schedule, something my editor, Vince Harper, brought up during one of our earlier production meetings.

Hmm, perhaps now would be a good time to get to the fun question…

What’s In Store For 2018?

So glad you asked! Thanks to the 273 honorable backers who helped make this happen, we’ll be rolling out the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game in two phases.

  • breakout2018-logo_324x179In March 2018, you can try out High Plains Samurai: Legends as a free download. Legends provides players with everything they need to play out one-shots in the One Land, perfect for convention play and to test out your wire-fu storytelling skills. Will include pre-generated characters, character & scene notes and three storylines. A print-on-demand (POD) version will also be available for a reasonable price (currently in the $10-$15 range based on final page count). We’re on target to premiere Legends at Breakout 2018 in Toronto, Canada and my plan is to have softcover copies available there as well.

  • Then in the Fall of 2018, the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game core rulebook will reveal everything you need to begin magnificent and dangerous tales from the One Land. Complete with character creation, advice for Writers and Directors, detailed introductions to the Five Cities and the Wastes, and more. This core guide to the game will be sold in PDF, POD, and softcover (prices yet to be determined) on all OneBookShelf sites, Amazon, and at major conventions and (hopefully) local gaming stores across North America (but I’ll settle with a handful… for now).

Plans are also underway for a dedicated High Plains Samurai website, publishing Fraser Ronald’s origin story of Black Scorpion, moving forward with the Atlas of the One Land project, I’m currently plotting out some ideas for a series of mini-games, and the wheels are spinning on a Black Scorpion’s Revenge Kickstarter late next year or early 2019. There will be more to come about these projects… soon. Stay tuned.

In Conclusion…

I’m quite pleased with this first year. Capped off with the success of the Kickstarter and the knowledge gained during the first 365 days of official operation, I’m really looking forward to applying these to the next 365 days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hyperventilating deep down inside but optimistically hyperventilating. If such a thing exists. All in all, I’m very happy with this first year.

If you have any questions or comments on what you’ve seen here, I’d be happy to follow up with more information or compare notes to help fill in a few more gaps in the indie market.

Two More Weeks and Counting…

If there’s one piece of advice to dispense above all others for anyone looking to run a Kickstarter, it’s this: the middle of the campaign is a killer. After this resounding success meeting our target in only 47 hours, the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter is now at the midsection of the campaign and building towards what we hope will be an exciting conclusion.

If you haven’t been there yet or if you haven’t checked it out since the launch, take a look at all the goodies that are waiting for you should we cross the $5,000 and $7,000 lines. Based on our current projections, it looks as if we’ll be able to create a small product line for HPS and it’s all thanks to our backers.

HPS-Kickstarter_goalschecklist

Visit the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter and back it today! Or tomorrow. But definitely no later than June 29th.

You can also read Fraser Ronald’s first three chapters of Ballad of a High Plains Samurai, the origin story of Black Scorpion.